You wouldn't expect a sweat-inducing, tear-jerking pepper to come from Minnesota, but it's true: Hydroponic grower Jeff Skalicky of Tomato King in Albany grows lemon cayenne peppers that clear the sinuses and add a surprising kick to homemade salsa and stir-frys.
Nestled next to bright green, orange, and red peppers imported from more exotic climes in The Wedge Community Co-op's produce department, the bright yellow lemon cayenne peppers are equally eye-catching--and equally torturous on the tongue. "These are the hottest local peppers I've ever had," says Wedge produce employee Mandy Catlette.
So what's the secret behind the spice? Skalicky grows the peppers hydroponically, which allows him to control the climate the peppers are exposed to. He can stress the peppers, forcing them to produce more capsaicin and making them spicier. "When I ate one it cleared my sinuses, and afterwards I felt amazing," Catlette says. She suggests adding the peppers to pico de gallo or using them in Indian or Thai cooking.
The lemon cayenne peppers also show up in Tomato King Fresh Salsa, which the Wedge started selling a few weeks ago. "This is for sure the super-fastest, super-freshest salsa you'd find in this store," Catlette says. Each container is $3.99, and all the ingredients except for the onions and cilantro come from Tomato King.
The lemon cayenne peppers are $3.99/lb at the Wedge.